This research project is completed under Prof. KER Dai Fei Elmer

It is worth noting that Dr. Ke Li, who took part in this project, was an iTERM/SBS Ph.D. student who graduated last year and is now a postdoctoral fellow.

Here are some extracts from their work: 

Biological and biophysical cues are both vital for biomaterial aided tendon repair and regeneration. Two noteworthy findings from our study are as follows:

First, we developed a serum-free medium comprised of a growth factor (GF) cocktail which includes transforming growth factor-beta3 (TGF-β3), fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Our study showed that this GF cocktail in serum-free media alone resulted in robust cell proliferation and tendon-like differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). This has potential for generating clinically meaningful numbers of tenocyte-like cells for tendon regeneration.

Second, we also investigated the combined effect of biological and biophysical cues on tenogenesis using this GF-based serum-free medium with a novel tendon-like biomaterial (PHT) developed in our lab. PHT is a novel photocrosslinkable polymer and can be fabricated with both Achilles tendon-like mechanical properties and topography by replica casting of tendon tissue sections. When used in combination with a substrate displaying tendon-like topography, a synergistic expression and organization of tendon-associated proteins was observed.

Together, these findings facilitate safe and reproducible ex vivo production of tendon-like cells using either GF cocktail alone or in combination with tendon-like stiffness and topography to develop native tissue-like constructs for tendon repair and regeneration.